There’s an entire universe of city parks within the Emerald City ready to cure the most severe case of ‘the Indoors.’
Summertime in Seattle offers many nearby cures for a case of “the Indoors.” Symptoms of this can include frequent utterings of “I’m bored”; glassy eyes from too much screen time; and sibling squabbling over who gets more space on the couch.
The good news is relief is close at hand – even in the city we don’t have to go far to get a dose of nature. The Emerald City is home to over 400 city parks.
To get started, here are our picks for the Top 10 Seattle City Park Trails.
10. North Seattle’s Jackson Park has undergone some recent improvements.Dodging in and out of the woods crossing over Thornton Creek, the perimeter trail skirts along the edge of the golf course. Newly completed in the summer of 2013, this is a welcome addition to Seattle City Park trails.
9. Schmitz Preserve Park Trail Tucked in a West Seattle ravine under a bridge, it’s easy to drive right past Schmitz Preserve Park without even realizing it’s there. This hidden gem features lush foliage, massive nursery logs and a stream running right through the center. Find some magic on this hidden trail.
8. Camp Long Trail, Sherman Rock Hidden away in West Seattle, Camp Long features an outdoor climbing rock, obstacle and ropes courses utilized in the summertime and crossings over ponds, all connected by its mile-long loop trail.
7. Carkeek Park Loop Trail The outer bluffs trail climbs through the forest, crosses salmon-spawning streams and rolls through stands of giant maple before descending back down to the beach and central play area.
6. Seward Park This peninsula park features grand views of Lake Washington and downtown Seattle. The trails weave through some of the best-preserved old-growth forest in Seattle, and are connected by a road that loops through and around the park.
5. Washington Park Arboretum and Foster Island Trail Home to the Japanese Gardens, Washington Park, the Visitor Center and the Foster Island Marshes, there is a lot to explore on the 3.5 mile out-and-back trail.
4. Woodland Park Loop Trail The 1.33-mile loop occasionally hosts Cyclocross Grand Prix events. This trail’s parklike atmosphere connects the Woodland Park Zoo, rose gardens, sports fields and the Greenlake loops.
3. Green Lake Loop Trail By far the most popular trail we have experienced in the Pacific Northwest. An estimated 10,000 people visit Green Lake during a summer day. Don’t expect solitude at Green Lake; Seattleites will venture out to the classic loop trails rain or shine. Look to Green Lake year-round for a nearby city park trail that can be looped to your heart’s content.
2. Elliot Bay Trail With perhaps the most quintessential views of the Seattle waterfront of any Seattle park, the Myrtle Edwards Park connects with the Elliot Bay Trail on winding bike and pedestrian paths along Elliott Bay, with fantastic views of the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier and the Salish Sea.
1. Discovery Park Outer Loop Trail Ask a Seattleite what the biggest, most spectacular park in the city is and chances are they will reply “Discovery” without missing a beat. With dramatic open vistas from the south bluffs, descending the winding trails through the woods to the rocky beach. The Discovery Park lighthouse at the point gives way to sandy beaches and more sweeping views to the north. Accessible year-round, Discovery Park has something for everyone.
So as you can see, you don’t even have to leave the city limits to get a healthy (and much-needed) dose of nature. So why not get out there and get some quality family outdoor time.
Find tips and trails by difficulty, location or season at bestofthenw.org. We put in the research to find the most loved trails and destinations in the Pacific NW. With 20+ years exploring crags, trails, beaches and mountains we are just scratching the surface.